Yes this would be the yummiest gluten free breakfast even if I don't tag it as the 101 gluten free breakfasts. After all it is made of fruits, milk and nuts. No added sugar for me please. Ice apples, ripe mangoes, cashew nuts and milk, these four ingredients can cast a spell in a bowl.
Ice apple or Palm fruits are in season right now and this peak of summer is the short span of time when they appear in markets of some Indian towns. Yes, these are seen only in some Indian towns although the Palm tree (Borassus flballifer) grows almost all over the country. Such a pity. But one of the reasons why it is not avaialble throughout the country could be the absence of the trained people who climb the Palm trees to pluck these and sell them after chopping off the hard shell these Ice apples are enclosed into.
Ice apples are the delicate jelly like endosperm of the Palm fruit (Borassus flabellifer) that is so flavourful one has to eat it to know what I mean. Not sweet like other fruits but mild cooling sweetness that quenches thirst like nothing else. The texture of this jelly like fruit feels almost watery when tender, and starts getting a bit chewy as it matures.
Ice apples are called Taal shash in Bengali, Nungu in Tamil, Thaati munjalu in Kannada Tad gola in Marathi and Tad phal in Hindi. I asked my father and he told that these fruits were once common in the north too but later these were considered fruits for the poor. What a pity.
I spotted these Palm fruit sellers in Hyderabad 2 weeks ago and could not refrain myself from buying some every time I passed through this road. One has to choose the tender ones because the mature Ice apples are a bit chewy and less sweet. The tender Ice apples have a sweet watery fluid inside it's cavity and the flesh is jelly like.
One Palm fruit encloses three Ice apples (endosperm part of the fruit) inside and each one is enclosed in a thin soft peel. Nature's wonders.
These Palm fruit sellers are quite deft at chopping off the hard shell of the fruit and delicately sliding off the fruit (edible endosperm) into a poly bag. I wish they had leaf bowls to sell these.
But it is a delight to see these Palm fruit sellers do their job. I was wondering if they accidentally cut their own palm while handling such sharp knives on such hard fruits.
And to my shock I spotted this scar later when I was seeing the cell phone pictures I had clicked. This man had actually got a deep cut sometime in his early life may be.
This is how the husk looks like. This would make good manure after it decomposes.
I clicked these pictures while Nirupama, my friend in Hyderabad collected the Palm fruits in a poly bag. She was the one who asked the seller to give us the tender fruits.
We enjoyed the fruits once we reached Bhavana's place. Nirupama told that the creamy white and thin peel of the Ice apples is used to rub on skin to cure summer rashes, the prickly heat.
I asked a few more people if they cooked these Ice apples too or made salads or desserts with these but everyone said they eat them as is. In fact it is very difficult to save these fruits to cook something as everyone just loves eating them as soon as it arrives.
Later, on my way back to airport I asked the cab driver to stop for the 'Thaati munjalu' (telugu name for these) and he kept looking for them. Such a sweet fellow he stopped where a Palm fruit seller was sitting with a huge heap of these. He even asked him to cut only the tender fruits for me. And I got two dozen of these Ice apples packed into my handbag, though I feared these might be seized at the airport.
But thankfully, these are no arms :-)
Back home, both of us enjoyed the chilled Ice apples of Thaati munjalu to our heart's content. I shared a picture of facebook and friends came up with suggestions to have these with chilled milk. Intrigued, I searched the internet and found someone had blended the Ice apples with soaked cashew to make a payasam. I loved the idea as we both love cashew nuts a lot.
And there came our first Nungu payasam.
I made this one with soaked cashew nuts paste blended with reduced milk (evaporated milk) and added chopped tender Ice apples. This was heaven in a bowl when chilled.
Just a dozen soaked cashew nuts blended with a little milk, added to a cup of reduced milk and a cup of chopped Ice apples. I did not add any sugar and the flavours of ice apple in the natural sweetness of cashew and reduced milk was something we will keep craving till the next time we get Ice apples.
And the next day I added some chopped mangoes to the same mix to make Nungu Mango payasam, and had it chilled for breakfast. This is going to be one of the best breakfasts we ever had. We love fruits and we love milk, this combination of milk and fruits is going to be one of the most favourite thing we did.
Clicking pictures was difficult as I kept eating while I clicked and took just 3 pictures to document the recipe.
This Nungu Mango payasam has no such recipe again. A dozen soaked cashew nuts blended with little milk, added to a cup pf reduced evaporated) milk and then mixed with 3/4 cup of chopped Ice apples and 1 cup of chopped ripe mangoes. No added sugar and still so sweet and flavourful.
No added sugar to kill the natural sweetness of these flavourful fruits.
And remember this dish can be served as a chilled dessert too, you might like to add just a hint of honey to it if you find it bland as per your 'dessert sense'. My dessert sense agrees with the natural sweetness of fruits.
So a larger serving of such a dessert for breakfast is a good idea for me.